In May 2023, all European National Young Academies (ENYA) were welcomed by the Young Academy of Sweden to Stockholm to take part in discussing the future of European research.

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The largest European National Young Academy meeting yet. Photo: Erik Thor/Young Academy of Sweden

In connection with the ENYA meeting and the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union the Young Academy of Sweden also arranged an International conference on the topic – Academic Freedom in a New Era.

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom takes many forms, as do the possible threats to its existence, which currently is on the rise across Europe and in individual European national states. While some scholars might experience threats from foreign or domestic political pressures, others might find a lack of financial stability a threat to achieving a state of free and creative thinking. Yet others might be the target of threats or smear campaigns, based on the nature of their research or findings.

Indeed, just as the challenges to academic freedom vary between disciplines, countries and groups, the discussion of how to safeguard such freedom in the future will necessarily be polyphonic and multi-faceted. in the spirit of the Young Academies of Europe, such a plurality of voices was welcomed and the meeting was seen as a starting point for identifying emergent challenges for independent research in Europe today and advancing creative and bold solutions in defence of academic freedom, with a special attention to the conditions for junior scholars.

In the European National Young Academies (ENYA) meeting, the academies discussed the opportunity to create something new and constructive. The meeting aimed to create a young academy vision for academic freedom in Europe – seeking to set a mark for 2030.

By creating an ideal road forward, the idea was to initiate a discussion of what the emerging research leaders' future roles and responsibilities hold: as research leaders, teachers, activists, public figures – or unfettered free thinkers, and to what degree do such roles overlap, or work in contradiction to each other.

Short Summary

The meeting started with a warm welcome by Peter Gillgren, president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, who generously invited the young academies to arrange the meeting in the magnificent facilities of this older Academy.

Lisa Hellman and Philippe Tassin hosted the meeting from the Young Academy of Sweden and the participants from the academies exchanged on current topics, activities and best practices. After lunch, the academies workshopped a draft version of the Stockholm Charter on Academic Freedom. All attending academy representatives unanimously declared their commitment to finalise the charter and realise the ratification of the final version in their respective academies.

Ewa Machotka from the Young Academy of Sweden and Sandro Carnicelli of the Young Academy of Scotland held a much-appreciated workshop on academic leadership resulting in a detailed mapping of the different characteristics contributing to good and bad leadership.

After a full day of intense and interactive sessions, the group was treated to a tour of City Hall and a visit to the Nobel Museum.

Program May 3

Place: Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Stockholm

9.00 Arrival/registration

9.30 Best practice exchange
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch
13.00 - 15.00 Academic freedom workshop
15.00 Break
15.30 - 16.40 Academic leadership
17.00 Reception and guided tour of the City Hall
19.00 Dinner and guided tour at the Nobel Price Museum

Participating young academies and initiatives

The international meeting gathered 45 participants from 22 young academies across Europe.

Attending academies were:

Academia Europea, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Croatian Young initiative, De Jonge Akademie, Estonian Young Academy, German Young Academy, Global Young Academy, Hungarian Young Academy, Italian Young Academy Initiative, Association of Latvian Young Scientists, Lithuanian Young Academy of Sciences, Polish Young Academy, Romanian Young Academy, Swiss Young Academy, UK Young Academy, Young Academy Finland, Young Academy of Belgium, Young Academy of Europe, Young Academy of Norway, Young Academy of Scotland, Young Academy of Spain, Young Academy of Sweden.

The ENYA meeting 2023 was funded by The Wenner-Gren Foundations and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, as well as our main funders Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Erling-Persson Foundation, Ragnar Söderberg Foundation, and Natur och Kultur foundation.

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